From Pauses for Pentecost
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor.
Anointing has a rich history in the Bible. In the Old Testament, kings and priests were anointed with perfumed oil. Significantly, when Jesus refers to being anointed by the Spirit of the Lord for ministry, there is no mention of oil. He is anointed directly by the Spirit of God. Why does he speak of being anointed, which suggests fragrant oil, if no ointment is used? The answer is obvious. When Jesus is anointed, the Holy Spirit is the oil. What the oil did for the kings and priests who were anointed in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit does for Jesus. Not surprisingly, oil has come to symbolize the Holy Spirit in Christian ceremonies.
As Easter people, we need to be anointed with the “oil” of the Spirit. Being spiritually anointed suggests a distinctive fragrance that communicates the presence of Jesus alive in us. It may be expressed through the aroma of an overwhelming generosity toward those in need, through a peaceful serenity and unusual calmness in the midst of trouble, or in a simple authority and inward power about the way we teach and preach. In whatever way our lives may smell of this sweet scent, we begin to smell like genuine followers of Jesus when God’s Spirit anoints us.
What do we smell like? As his disciples, we already have been anointed by Christ himself. (See 1 John 2:20.) The oil of the Spirit is, to use a gospel image, bottled up in the alabaster jars of our lives. Roman Catholic theologian and writer Raniero Cantalamessa suggests that these jars need to be broken so that the fragrance of the Spirit can be set free in our lives. Each of us needs to think about what this may mean. Often, this breaking involves vulnerably opening ourselves to God, abandoning ourselves to Jesus, and dying to our self-contentedness. Whatever efforts we need to make, they always must be accompanied by a simple request for the Lord to anoint us with his Spirit whenever we intend to do something for him. Only then will be become the aroma of Christ!
Today, whenever you begin a new task that you want to do on behalf of the Lord, ask God to anoint you with the oil of the Holy Spirit.